Cubs fans are finally getting their wish, as the team announced that first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is on his way to Chicago after destroying Triple-A pitching for the second straight season.
Rizzo struggled in his first taste of the big leagues last year for the Padres and was then traded to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner in January.
He hit .345 with 23 homers, 18 doubles, and a 1.110 OPS in 69 games at Triple-A after hitting .331 with 26 homers, 34 doubles, and a 1.056 OPS in 93 games there last year. Add it all up and Rizzo played 162 games at Triple-A, hitting .337 with 49 homers, 52 doubles, and a 1.078 OPS.
His call-up means that first baseman Bryan LaHair will shift to the outfield full time, which the Cubs prepared for by giving him three starts in right field during the past week.
Rizzo’s horrible debut for San Diego last year has some people skeptical about his ability to become a star-caliber hitter in the majors, but at 22 years old with incredible numbers at Triple-A it would certainly be shocking if he failed to become at least a very, very good hitter.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.